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The “Shipping Address” in a Nutshell (Meaning & Usage Guide)

The “Shipping Address” in a Nutshell (Meaning & Usage Guide)

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E-commerce is big business, with tens of millions of people browsing and ordering their favorite goods online daily.

The fact that so much shopping is now done online means that shoppers need to adjust to new vocabulary and phrases. If you’ve ever taken part yourself, you’ve probably seen a field asking for your shipping address.

But what exactly is that, and how does it differ from other types of address?


What is the meaning of “shipping address”?

Shipping is the process of sending something from one place to another. That means that a shipping address is simply the address where you want something sent. Of course, you will need to include all the parts of a full address. You may also see this referred to as a mailing address, delivery address or recipient address. However, billing addresses are not necessarily the same.


How do I find out my shipping address?

Whether you’re buying something online or filling out a form at the post office, you’ll see the phrase “shipping address” in various places.

It’s easy to get tripped up by this, and you might be tempted to immediately put down your home address. However, that isn’t always the right thing to do.

The key to understanding this phrase is the word “shipping.” Although today, many items are sent by air or land, this word refers to the historical use of ships to send items from one place to another.

In short, the shipping address is simply the address where you are sending something.

If you’re trying to send something to your home address, then the shipping address is identical to that.

If, however, you’re sending something to a friend, you will want to make sure you put that friend’s address instead of your own. Otherwise, you’ll end up mailing whatever it is to yourself!

Whenever you see “shipping address” on a form, in other words, just ask yourself where you want the item to end up and put down that address.


Judy Chu

123 Alphabet Rd

Apartment 42

Nowhere AZ 56443

ATTN: Returns

eNile Online

456 River Rd

Long Beach CA 90301

Here are two example addresses which could be shipping addresses.

Of course, there’s nothing that makes an address a “shipping address” all the time. All you need is for the address you use to be the destination of what you are sending.


What are the parts of a shipping address?

Just like any other address, a shipping address is made up of several lines. The exact makeup of an address varies internationally, but the examples below are the parts of a valid United States address in most cases.


Recipient name

The recipient is the person who is receiving the package or letter.

If you are mailing something to an individual, put that person’s first and last name. Basically, this line will clear up who at the address is supposed to get the package, in case there are multiple people living there.

If you are mailing something to a company or a unit within a company, this line can still contain a person’s name.

In some cases, you may be instructed to add something like ATTN (attention) and the name of a department, instead.

Optionally, you can include an additional line after the individual’s name which routes the delivery to a specific department.

Universities and particularly large corporate campuses may also ask you to include a building name and a department, as well as a person’s name, when addressing mail to their employees.

Although these additional lines are important if you are sending something to a specific person at a very large company with many departments, they are not required and should be left out unless you know they are needed.

You may also see this called “addressee name,” but it’s the same thing.


Judy Chu

ATTN: Returns

Here are the recipient names from our addresses above.

S.R. Ranganathan


Banaras Hindu University

This example includes a person’s first and last name (S.R. Ranganathan), the building (Library) and the company name (Banaras Hindu University).


Address line 1

The first line of an address contains the city and street name, as well as the number on that street where the package needs to go.

Words like “road” or “court” are usually abbreviated, but they don’t need to be.


123 Alphabet Rd

456 River Rd

These two lines come from our example addresses above.


Address line 2 (optional)

If a package is shipping to a specific part of a street address such as an apartment or suite, indicate it on the next line of the address.

If there is only a single house or company at the street address, you shouldn’t use this line.


Apartment 26

Suite 2A


City, state and zip code

You should already know the name of the city and state where your package needs to go.

Use a two-letter abbreviation (CA, not California) for the state.

The USPS does not require commas on this line. Their website also has a lookup tool to find the most accurate zip code.


Monmouth OR 97361

Juneau AK 99801

These are correctly formatted cities, states and zip codes for two cities in Oregon and Alaska.



If you are shipping something from one country to another, it’s important to include the country name in the address.

In almost all cases, you can use the English name for the country.



United States


These are three possible countries where you could ship things.


What are some synonyms for shipping address?

Because nothing in life can ever be simple, there are a number of different terms you might see used in place of “shipping address.”

Sometimes, these can have subtle differences in meaning, but for the most part they are the same thing.

  • Recipient address – The “recipient” here is the same as the recipient name. This term asks for the address of the person receiving the mail.
  • Delivery address – If you see this phrase, you are being asked to write the address where you want something specific delivered. It is essentially an exact synonym for “shipping address.”
  • Mailing address – This is the address at which you are able to receive mail. Usually, this term only refers to you as the person filling something out, and is not asking for where a specific package is going.


Are my shipping address and billing address the same?

Unlike a shipping address, a billing address is the address of the person who will be paying for an item or for the delivery.

That means that your shipping address and your billing address are only the same if you are mailing yourself something that you are paying for and you live at the address that is on file with your card provider or bank.

If you are buying something to be mailed elsewhere, you will need to put the address associated with your credit or debit card in the billing address.

College students need to take particular care with putting the right billing address, as card companies and banks may become suspicious if the zip code on a purchase does not match their permanent (or “home”) address.